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Pharmaceutical Forum - The three years process


Pharmaceutical Forum - DG Enterprises and Industry

Pharmaceutical Forum plenary meetings, 2006 and 2007

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Commissioner Markos Kyprianou co-chaired the ministerial level Pharmaceutical Forum on 29 September 2006 in Brussels. The meeting was attended by national health ministers, MEPs and various stakeholders.The first Forum meeting discussed the issues dealt with by the three Working Groups that has been established: Improving information on medicines to patients, finding a balance between rewarding innovation, value for money and access to medicines in pricing and reimbursement policies, and quicker access to effective medicines through relative effectiveness policies.Following the discussions, the Forum adopted the Progress Report and its conclusions. These conclusions provide a direction for the future work within the Working Groups.

The second Forum was held on 26 June 2007. Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Commissioner Markos Kyprianou co-chaired the second ministerial-level Pharmaceutical Forum in Brussels. The meeting was attended by Health Ministers of Member States, MEPs and senior representatives from the Forum's ten stakeholder organisations.

This second Forum meeting acknowledged the work undertaken by the three working groups on Relative Effectiveness, Pricing and Reimbursement, and Information to Patients. There was widespread recognition of the challenges that each one was facing but acknowledgement that there had been some progress in all three. The Forum adopted a progress report which summarised the work of each of the working groups and set out objectives for the forthcoming year.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee prepared the annual Pharmaceutical Forum and oversaw the work of, and provided the operational guidance to, the Working Groups. It was  also responsible for ensuring the flow of information between the Pharmaceutical Forum and Working Groups. To ensure the effectiveness of the Committee the membership was restricted to 7 Member States (selected from recent, current and upcoming Presidencies), representation of the European Parliament, and a senior representative from ten key stakeholder organisations. The Committee was chaired jointly by DG Enterprise and Industry and by DG Health and Consumer Protection.

Working Groups

Three expert Working Groups supported the work of the Forum and the Steering Committee. The task of the Working Groups was to consider how to make progress on information to patients, pricing policies and relative effectiveness assessments. The role of the Working Groups was to provide expert advice on information to patients, pricing and relative effectiveness. The Working Groups were composed of representatives of the Member States and the stakeholders. Working Groups were chaired jointly by DG Enterprise and Industry and by DG Health and Consumer Protection.

Working Group on Information to Patients

The aim of the Working Group was to advise the Commission on ways to improve the quality of, and access to, information on authorised medicines and related health areas to European patients. This will supplement the key role of health professionals in providing information to patients on medicines and health issues more generally. Patients are increasingly faced with different information, provided by multiple parties with differing objectives and sent through multiple channels (e.g., the internet). This initiative therefore  focused on disease information, electronic and non-electronic dissemination of information and the availability of supporting information in the healthcare environments (such as pharmacies and hospitals).In spring 2007, the Commission organised a public consultation on the work of the Information to Patient Working Group.  The objective of this public consultation was twofold. Firstly, the aim was to disseminate information on the work and proposals of the working group on information to patients established under the Pharmaceutical Forum. Secondly, it provided an opportunity for all relevant stakeholders to give their views and comments on the output of the working group.

Working Group on Pricing and Reimbursement

The key task of the Working Group on Pricing and Reimbursement was to examine pricing and reimbursement mechanisms to support Member States fulfilling their commitment towards the G10 recommendations, as well as towards the public health objectives of offering an equal access to medicines at an affordable overall cost. Several factors have generated significant changes in the pricing and reimbursement mechanisms of most Member States during the last years: raising expenditure on medicines, inequity of access to medicines in Europe, the call for early access to innovative medicines. This Working Group aimed to identify, explore and exchange alternative mechanisms that can help Member States answer these different challenges. It will be up to each Member State to see how to apply these mechanisms. 

Working Group on Relative Effectiveness

The Working Group on Relative Effectiveness aimed to support Member States apply relative effectiveness systems in order to allow containment of pharmaceutical costs as well as a fair reward for innovation. Relative effectiveness assessment systems are relatively new for many Member States and rather complex. Nevertheless, the outcome of relative effectiveness assessments is promising as they will help allow identify the most valuable medicines, both in terms of clinical efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and will help set a fair price for these medicines. The Working Group brought  experiences of different Member States and of industry together in order to further develop this promising field.

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